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Reading Goals and Changes for 2016

December 31, 2015 4 comments
awesomewolf

Source: yenn87 on DeviantArt

Hello my lovely readers!

As I mentioned in my 2015 reading stats wrap-up, I decided to break out my reading goals into a separate post this year because I also have some changes to announce.

As long-time readers know, I had two big life events in 2015. I married my best friend and my father passed away.  You may not know that in 2016 I’m turning 30.  These three personal events have combined to make me really evaluate my life, my time, and my goals.

I feel a real sense of both how fleeting time is and how important it is to me to build a good life and family with my husband.  I want to live with intention and forethought, while holding on to the new ability I’ve found with my husband to embrace the unexpected and do things that are not planned.  That’s a pretty wordy way of saying I want to live mindfully.

My sense of time passing has made me realize that I don’t have forever to write the books I want to write in my lifetime.  And that means I need to stop claiming all of my reading time is contributing to my writing. While it’s true that a writer must read, a writer must also consistently write.  A writer cannot simply read.  I have writer friends who have said before they had to dial back some of their reading to make time for writing, and I now understand why that is so.

This same sense of time passing has made me realize that I no longer wish to spend my time reading books I don’t enjoy.  My whole life I have almost always finished not just every single book I’ve started but most books I’ve acquired as well (with a few exceptions that I got rid of when my now husband moved in with me).  Since my father passed away, I realized life is too short for that.  I went through my books and got rid of any that didn’t make me feel the spark of a happy reader when looking at them or their description.  I’ve also started a few books that I simply stopped reading and got rid of.  I’ve also finally been honest with myself about certain types of books I enjoy that I was once a bit ashamed of.

What does all of this mean for Opinions of a Wolf? Well, many things, actually.

1) Expect there to be far fewer 2 and/or 1 star ratings.
With the exception of books I accept for review (ARCs), if I start a book and am not enjoying my time reading it at any point, I am going to put it down (for good). I am still not comfortable reviewing books that I haven’t read in their entirety.  So I will simply not be reviewing these books.  Don’t take the sudden lack of lower star ratings to mean that I am no longer being honest.  I am just choosing to spend my time in a different manner.  It is still possible for there to be low ratings, though, if a book disappoints me at the end (goes off the rails, as it were) or if I’m reading it because it’s akin to watching a train wreck, haha.  I will still finish any ARCs I accept, however.  To this end…..

2) Books submitted to me for the annual review were accepted in a different manner this year.
This year instead of setting a number I would accept, I only accepted however many books actually appealed to me.  I also required submissions with excerpts, so I could read the first few pages and see how I felt about the writing.  I am hoping the combination of these two means that my review of indie ARCs will serve both for me to find more obscure books I will enjoy and to offer good indie authors beneficial reviews.  Again, though, if a book winds up disappointing me, I will finish it (since it is an ARC), and I will give an honest review.

3) The genres I read are going to change. Some.
I’ve always had a secret thing for humorous (usually British) chick lit.  In fact, the last two books I read this year fit in this category perfectly.  I am not just done hiding this genre, I am also done hating on it.  I feel a lot of the hate comes from a culture-wide judgment of femme things (because of judging women).  I would rather build it up as the respected (albeit silly/not serious literature) genre it should be, rather than participate in ignoring it.  Similarly, before I started the book blog, I read quite a bit of self-help.  I still read it sometimes but I didn’t want to read it too much, worried about what people might think of me.  I’m not going to seek it out, but if one appeals to me, I am going to pick it up and not worry about what people might think.  One thing that won’t change is the love of scifi/fantasy, that will stay.  However, my husband noticed my growing collection of older scifi/fantasy paperbacks by women authors and commented on how cool that was.  I hope to feature these books more in some way yet to be determined on this blog.  I’m even going to be dedicating a whole bookshelf in our studio apartment to it.  I also will be doing more reading of nonfiction I need to read to research my writing, rather than reading things that I think will help make me look smart or that I think I *should* read.  Basically this whole section is saying: I’m done caring about what people think of me. I’m gonna be real. Fuck it.

4) I’m going to be spending more time writing.
Whether this will impact how much I read is yet to be seen, since I tend to read faster when I actually enjoy what I’m reading.  I am working on incorporating writing into being a daily habit and, if I have enough material, I may start publishing some shorts or flash on here.  Alternatively, there may just be a few more publication announcement posts.  Or, I might just do a recap of writing accomplishments in some fashion.

5) I’ve adjusted the Mental Illness Advocacy Reading Challenge to be more flexible.
You may now sign up for ongoing or annual versions of the challenge.  I realized for me personally reading books featuring characters with a mental illness in a positive light has become just something I seek out in my reading. It’s not a number I strive for annually.  I figured, why not add that as a more casual option for folks.  You can see more details on the dedicated page.

So that’s what to expect in 2016.
Expect things to be a bit more real around here and hopefully to see more of a mix of reading and writing.  I’m excited to see what 2016 will bring.

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August Updates and July Reflections

August 1, 2015 2 comments
photo(1)

We went hiking in a state forest for the 4th of July. This is a brook that the trail led us to wade across.

Hello my lovely readers!

I hope you enjoyed the variety of genres on the blog this month.  I know I enjoyed reading them!

The book of the month for August will be:

Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons
First reviewed in August 2010
“Between the character building, the steampunky feel, and the humorous slapstick scenes, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.”

How was my reading, reviewing, and writing this month?

July books read: 7 (3 scifi, 1 urban fantasy, 1 historic nonfiction, 1 foodie nonfiction, 1 historic fiction, 1 contemporary romance)

July reviews: 5

Other July posts: 1 writing announcement, 1 giveaway, 1 blog announcement

Most popular post in July written in July: Giveaway: Everlasting: Da Eb’Bulastin by Rasheedah Prioleau (INTERNATIONAL)

My favorite post of July: Book Review: Fated by S.G. Browne

Most popular post in July written at any time: Book Review: The Time Machine by H. G. Wells (Bottom of TBR Pile Challenge)

July writing: I got started on the fourth part of the multi-part series I’m writing, so that’s good!  I’ve started carrying a notebook with me to work so I can write on my lunch break away from my office.  I think that is helping.

Coming up in August: I have two 2015 ARCs I’ve read to review, as well as a giveaway for one of them.  You can also tell from my genres I’ve read recently that I have a variety of nonfiction, as well as some romance coming up.  We’ll see how much of it I have time to review this month!

Happy August and happy reading!

Blog Updates

March 6, 2015 4 comments

Hello my lovely readers!

I just wanted to take a moment to let those of you who subscribe via RSS feed or email that my blog now officially has its own url.  It is now opinionsofawolf.com not opinionsofawolf.wordpress.com.  Don’t worry, all links to the old .wordpress.com address are set to automatically forward to opinionsofawolf.com.  I’m excited to be taking this leap forward.

I have also decided to focus my free time more in on my writing.  Long-time readers know I am also a writer (see my Publications page here).  In light of this, I have decided to close up my Etsy shop.  I enjoy cross-stitching and designing patterns, but I would like to revert it back to being a hobby.  However, I have made all the patterns I designed available on my Cross-Stitch page, and I will add more as I design them. At my leisure.

I have also designed and synced an author’s twitter to this blog.  There is a link in the sidebar, or you may follow it here.  This is a public twitter that anyone may follow.  I primarily focus on tweeting about writing, books, and links to things that interest me, as well as retweeting anything I find humorous.

I also hope to start doing a monthly reading and writing reflection post.  We will all see how that goes!

Happy reading!

Friday Fun! (April: Busyness and Hiking)

View of Boston city skyline

The view of Boston on our hike.

Hello my lovely readers!

April was such a busy month, I can actually hardly believe it’s over already!  It’s always a busy month for me at work, as I help organize and run an annual event on-campus.  In addition this month, we also welcomed a new program to our campus, so the library was very busy putting in the groundwork for supporting students studying that new subject area.  I also submitted my first-ever poster abstract.  So busy!  On top of this, the weekend of my work event was the same weekend as the first motorcycle race weekend of the season for my partner.  He was incredibly busy prepping for the races.  Instead of just the normal getting everything running again after the long winter, he also was prepping a new (to him) race bike to be track ready.  Since I couldn’t go with him for the first race weekend, I wanted to send along something nice, so I made him a pie and cookies for carb-loading at the track.  I honestly found the baking to be stress-relieving and really enjoyed it.  I’m happy to report both the work event and the first race weekend went well!

In spite of the busyness, we were able to squeeze in quite a few hangouts with friends and dates for ourselves.  One of our dates was to hike a local trail on Easter Sunday.  It was gorgeous weather in a month of a lot of iffy weather.  I always find it so refreshing to get outside and in the woods, and even more so with my boyfriend.  We saw lots of jack-in-the-pulpits and also got a great view of Boston.

My stitching slowed down a bit this month, although I did release the first design in a new line–rhubarb in foraging New England.  The rest of the patterns for the line are designed but they still need to be trial-stitched! I hope to release at least one of them this month.

I read and reviewed four books this month, sticking to my overall goal of one book a week.  I’ll be happy if I manage to stick to that during my upcoming even busier month of May! In my own writing, I’m still working away whenever I have the time on my new book idea, writing background short stories.  The typewriter my bf got me for Christmas is coming in really handy, freeing me of distractions.

Happy reading!

Friday Fun! (May: Cooking, Fitness, Writing, Spring Cleaning, and Reading Of Course!)

Spring means I get to read outside in the sun for my lunch break!

Spring means I get to read outside in the sun for my lunch break!

Hello my lovely readers!

As previously promised, Friday Fun has now become a monthly check-in on the last Friday on the month to touch base with you guys and help you get to know (or stay in the know on) the blogger behind the reviews (and the novels/novellas/short stories of course).

May was a busy month for me.  I attended a conference for medical librarians, which invaded this blog a bit, as I summarized what I learned for both myself and for other librarians.  Thanks to that conference, I worked 12 days in a row, so I took off a few days the week after to give myself a nice long weekend.  On that long weekend, I did some spring cleaning and got started on sorting through and getting rid of stuff.  I usually do this in the spring, but I’m doing it with more vigor this year as my boyfriend and I are planning on moving in together when my lease is up.  I’m of course incredibly happy to be moving in with my partner but also nervous!  To that end, if any of you want to check out my ebay store, there’s mostly lp’s/records, clothes, and of course, books!  This is also why I’ve been reading so many books for my Bottom of the TBR Pile Challenge.  Most of my print books are for that challenge, and I’m trying to clear off my shelves.

My vacation also consisted of a lot of cooking.  Cooking is one of my favorite hobbies, and I hadn’t had much of a chance to make more complex recipes since I was so busy and exhausted.  I made: 4 hour lasagna (I call it that since it takes me…4 hours to make), twice-baked rutabagas, and pumpkin monkey bread muffins.  You can see all of the recipes over on my Pinterest Pinned It And Did It board.

This month also brought back the real motorcycle riding season.  My boyfriend got me an awesome vegan jacket (for safety) and a helmet (obviously, for safety), and we’ve been going on some nice evening rides together.  I’m looking forward to some longer ones out into western Mass later in the season.  I also got to dig my bicycle out of winter retirement and go on my first ride of the season.  I’m pleased to say my legs stayed in much better shape over this winter season than previous ones, although my seat bones weren’t so happy with the first ride. Ow.

In related work-out news, my gym’s 60 day challenge completed last week.  I had signed up for the body composition challenge, which was about body fat percent rather than body weight.  Over the course of the two months my body fat percent went down by 1.2%, and I gained 2 pounds of muscle!  I was totally shocked by those results, as I mostly just kept on doing my regular fitness routine, where I focus in on being healthy and acquiring more personal bests in weights/cardio/etc… I mostly wanted to see what impact my routine really has on my body, and it clearly is helping me build muscle.  I’m very excited about that.

I’m also pleased to report that writing is progressing on the sequel to Ecstatic Evil! I’m really in a paranormal frame of mind right now, and I’m having fun with it.  I hope to give the Tova fans the sequel as soon as possible.

In reading news, this month I read 7 books, which is the most I’ve read so far this year in a month.  I’m not even going to try to guess as to what made it go up, but I’m glad that it did!  I read a wide variety including scifi, urban fantasy, historical fiction, thriller/mystery, and horror, and I read across all reading platforms (ebook, print, and audio).  I have yet to write up reviews for 4 of these books, so rest assured, more reviews are coming!  For June I intend to continue my focus on predominantly choosing books that appeal to me most in that moment, although I would like to knock out at least one from my Bottom of the TBR Pile Challenge that is unappealing.  Additionally, I got an arc for the next book in Madeline Ashby’s artificial intelligence series that is releasing next month, as well as the final book in Jackie Morse Kessler’s series that is also releasing in June, and I’d like to read/review both of those around their release dates.

How were your Mays? What was your favorite read of the month?

Friday Fun! (New Book Blogger/Bookstore Opportunity and Blog Tour Updates)

August 10, 2012 4 comments

Hello my lovely readers!

This was honestly a very long week for me.  Work has been very busy, and I had a couple of stressful personal situations come up.  No worries though. All is well now. 🙂

*knock on wood*

I’m glad I planned ahead and took a vacation day this week.  I went for a very long walk along the Charles just taking in nature and the sounds of summer around me.  Then I went home and baked muffins. By wisely taking downtime moments like this throughout the week, my stress levels weren’t quite so bad.

In any case, today I just want to let my fellow book bloggers know of a new opportunity.  Little Red Reviewer and her friend Darkcargo have taken it upon themselves to start an awesome project entitled Bookstore Bookblogger Connection.  This is entirely a labor of love in which they are attempting to match up book blogger reviews (currently of just scifi and fantasy) to bookstores to be add to their displays.  It’s good publicity for the book bloggers, and a neat new way for bookstores to find books to recommend.  See Little Red Reviewer’s announcement post here, and the official Bookstore Bookblogger Connection website here.

Finally the weekly update for the Waiting For Daybreak blog tour!  This week was slightly busier.

Ellie Hall graciously hosted a guest post in which I explain how the tagline for the tour, “What is normal?” relates to the book.

Eva’s Sanctuary interviewed me. Among other things, you can hear many more details about my busy medical librarian job.

Eva’s Sanctuary also offered a review, stating, “This is a unique zombie tale, but well worth the read. I think you will be quite surprised.”

Last but not least, today Lily Element posted a review, suggesting it to readers, “if you want something different and enjoy zombie books.”

That’s it for this week. Happy weekends all!

Publication Announcement: Waiting For Daybreak

Hello my lovely readers!

I am pleased to be able to say my first full-length novel, Waiting For Daybreak, is now available on Amazon!  After the first 90 days, it will also be available at Barnes and Noble and Smashwords.

What is normal?

Frieda has never felt normal. She feels every emotion too strongly and lashes out at herself in punishment. But one day when she stays home from work too depressed to get out of bed, a virus breaks out turning her neighbors into flesh-eating, brain-hungry zombies. As her survival instinct kicks in keeping her safe from the zombies, Frieda can’t help but wonder if she now counts as healthy and normal, or is she still abnormal compared to every other human being who is craving brains?

I do hope you will give it a shot.

If you have a book blog and would like to participate in the upcoming blog tour, just let me know!

*confetti*